[UPDATED!] A Message To You From The People Of Japan: “We Will Always Remember You. Thank You”

Update: It appears the video was pulled from YouTube by the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of New York due to copyright infringement…

So we’ll just use a Japanese video sharing sight instead! It’s embedded below, so be sure to check it out!

To the people of the world: there is a video we would like you to see.

On March 11, 2011, at 2:46pm, the Pacific coast of the Tohoku region of Japan was hit by the most powerful earthquake the country had ever experienced. As the overwhelming scale of the destruction from the quake and resulting tsunami became clear, and the number of lives reported lost continued to climb to reach over 10,000, the people of our country were devastated with grief and a sense of dejection.

It was during this time that you, the people from different countries across the world, called out to us with a message of strength and support: “Ganbare Nihon!”—Be strong Japan! You lifted out spirits and gave us the courage to keep our heads up and move forward.

Nowhere is this feeling of appreciation stronger than it is with the people of Tohoku. Anyone who has spent time helping with the rebuilding efforts knows how strong these people are, and how thankful they are.

Now, a group of people from Tohoku have created a video with the hope of conveying a simple message to all of you around the world who sent your love, prayers, donations and words of encouragement: arigato. Read More

On November 15, Japanese electronics manufacturer Sanwa Denshi unveiled a radiation-measuring device that can connect to iPhones and serve as an affordable Geiger counter.

It is 14 cm long and five cm wide and displays radiation dosages on the screens of iPhones equipped with GeigerBot and other such applications.

The retail price is 9,800 yen, and it will go on sale in a few days.

Read More

Sanriku Railway Memorial Goes On Sale, Buy A Piece Of Japan Disaster History And Help Fund Recovery

On October 28, Sanriku Railway Company began accepting orders for its second round of railway memorials dedicated to the recovery of the areas devastated by the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami. Read More

Minutes before the tsunami that wrecked hundreds of miles of Japanese coastline hit land on March 11, an untold number of people flipped open their mobile phones and turned on their video cameras to record history in the making. New videos continue to pop up on Youtube and other sites.

Read More

During a visit to a shelter in the disaster-struck city of Ishinomaki in Miyagi prefecture last month, leader of popular Japanese male idol group SMAP Masahiro Nakai passed out handheld game systems to children to help make their the shelter life a little more bearable.

However, this act of charity was soon surrounded in controversy as it was recently revealed that local officials were taking away the game consoles from some of the children. Read More

A household ‘Noah’s Ark’ is set to go on sale in Japan in the wake of the devastating tsunami that left thousands dead on March 11. Read More

On May 19 it was revealed that two 2nd grade homeroom teachers at a Junior High School in Akita prefecture were writing the names of students who did not donate money for the Great East Japan Earthquake on the blackboard.

The incident has sparked controversy in Japan with people criticizing the teachers as having put pressure on the students to donate.
Read More

Fukushima: We Visit Expo Venue-Turned-Shelter

Koriyama city lies near the center of Fukushima prefecture and 58 km from the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant. Radiation levels in the city have hovered around 2 mSv since March, and residents remain uneasy as the nuclear crisis drags on.

Even more can be said for the nearly 3,000 people in shelters in Koriyama who were forced to evacuate their homes. Furthermore, around 2,000 of these people are living under the same roof: Big Palette Fukushima, a five-story, 50,000 m² exhibition center.

On April 11th I visited Big Palette Fukushima to see what living conditions are like. Read More

In 2007 Japanese home sanitation company S.T. Corporation launched a commercial for their popular brand of bathroom deodorizer, Shoshu-Riki for Toilet, featuring a group of foreign musicians performing a jingle called Song for Toilet.

The commercial and jingle became an instant hit with its catchy tune and lyrics: “Shoshu-Riki, I love the toilet. Shoshu-Riki, I love it too! For your lovely toilet, Shoshu-Riki!” Read More

On April 21 the Japanese government declared the 20 km zone around the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant a no-go zone, forcing volunteer animal rescue groups that had been working in the area to halt their efforts.

Before the no-go zone was enforced the groups had been working to rescue the cats and dogs left behind by their owners who fled after the nuclear crisis broke out. After being denied special permission to enter the area several of the groups appealed to the public to pressure the government into taking action. Read More

Takeshi’s 7-Step “Relief” Program

During an April 23 live television broadcast of the program Jouhou 7-Days Newscaster and renowned filmmaker Takeshi Kitano urgently appealed to provide “more detailed assistance” to the disaster area.

Takeshi, who co-hosts the program, outlined seven measures that he believes could improve the quality of life for those displaced by the disaster. In true Takeshi fashion most of the suggestions are very bold and even lewd, making it easy to brush them off as another one of his comedic stunts. However, considering that the shelters provide very little in the way of privacy and entertainment, Takeshi’s proposal could sound much more relevant to those actually living in them.

The proposed measures follow below: Read More

Operation Arigatou: One Man’s Mission to Say ‘Thank You’

In the days following the Great East Japan Earthquake the United States Armed Forces mobilized to aid Japan’s disaster relief efforts and launched ‘Operation Tomodachi’ (lit: Operation Friend). It has since become a large scale operation with the United States committing roughly 20,000 personnel, 20 ships and 160 aircraft to date.

Efforts so far have included distributing supplies to the disaster area, searching for missing persons off the Sanriku Coast, cleaning up rubble and debris, and restoring a landing strip at the disaster-struck Sendai Airport. The United States also provided a specialized unmanned aircraft to photograph the area around the Fukushima I reactor as the nuclear crisis unfolded.

Moved by America’s compassionate response to Japan’s situation, an anonymous former member of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) and resident of Miyagi prefecture began making plans to personally express his thanks to the United States personnel involved in Operation Tomodachi. He named his plan ‘Operation Arigatou.’ Read More

Collection of Earthquake-Themed Illustrations to be Auctioned and Compiled in Book For Charity

On March 16 several members of the French artist community café salé launched Project Tsunami, a website showcasing a collection of earthquake- and tsunami-themed illustrations. Read More

Videos Show Citizens Stranded On Roof By Tsunami As Fires Spread

Most of the video and imagery shown by the media since the Great East Japan Earthquake were taken from the air. For example, the most commonly used footage documenting the sea of fire that spread across the city of Kesennuma in Miyagi prefecture was taken from helicopter by the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force, and provides us with a clear image of the scale of situation.

Today we would like to share a series of five videos that were taken by phone from the roof of the Kesennuma City Community Center documenting the same fire. They were taken by the YouTube user ono999dera and show how the dire situation unfolded before the eyes of those stranded in Kesennuma City. Read More

An Edano Odyssey, Part 3: Kan Can

During a visit to Fukushima on April 21 Prime Minister Naoto Kan made an inspection of several shelters to listen to the demands of refugees directly and assure them of the government’s continuous support as the nuclear crisis continues.

Unlike Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano, who visited four days earlier, Prime Minister Kan stayed out of the 20 km no-go zone during his trip. He did, however, follow Mr. Edano’s lead in keeping the trip short. Perhaps this was due to the inhospitable atmosphere: wherever Kan went he was met with voices of anger from refuges who suggested, “Bring all the cabinet ministers here and try living here yourselves. Try and see what we’re going through.”

It seems that, like Mr. Edano, Prime Minister Kan may need to try harder to convince the Japanese of his selfless dedication in pulling the country out of this crisis. Read More

Fukushima: (UPDATE) Cattle on Abandoned Ranch Starve to Death, No-Go Zone Leaves Volunteers Helpless

For the latest information on the situation, please check here (May 5th)

In early April we accompanied an animal rescue team formed by several animal protection groups working within the 20 km evacuation zone around the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant. In our first article, we reported the shocking scene of a ranch where the cattle had been abandoned by their owners who had fled after the outbreak of the crisis.

This time, we’d like to follow up on the report with updated information and unreleased photographs and video from the scene. Read More

An independent investigation conducted by a citizens group based in Fukushima has detected radioactive iodine-131 in the breast milk of several women living in areas around Fukushima. Read More

“We’ll make this a better town than before”: Series of Posters Show Resolution of Japanese

Japan’s Sanriku Coast is a 600 km stretch of coastline on the northern Pacific side of the island well-known for being an area of significant seismic activity. The irregular shape of the coast line is said to amplify the severity of tsunami, and the 15+ meter waves that hit Sanriku after last month’s earthquake were no exception. There are many regions along the coastline where entire villages were washed away, and recovery seems to be nowhere in sight.

Despite this devestation the people of these regions are doing what they can to rebuild their towns. A photographer from Morioka City in Iwate Prefecture, which lies along the middle of the Sanriku Coast, has created a series of posters that capture the unrelenting spirit and determination of these people who have sworn, “We’ll make this a better town than before.” Read More

Earlier this April we made our way to Fukushima to do some investigative reporting of the current conditions in the five- to ten-kilometer area around the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant.

In part 1 of this story we reported on the efforts of several animal protection groups to rescue dogs left behind by their owners. In this next part we would like to shift the focus to the cats left in the same situation. Read More

Earlier this April we made our way to Fukushima to do some investigative reporting of the current conditions in the five- to ten-kilometer area around the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant.

We traveled with an animal protection group as they visited the town of Namie and the Otaka district of Minamisoma city, both of which fall within the designated 20 km evacuation zone.

While we were there the workers were able to rescue around 20-30 cats and dogs. They were transported to a safer area and placed under the care of volunteers until they could be adopted, or their real owners found.

Yet, despite their best efforts, there are few other groups willing to put their health on the line to rescue these animals, and the shelters are limited in resources and capacity. The grim truth is that some animals will be left behind.

Luckily, there are some people who, unable to forsake these abandoned animals, are staying behind as well. On major Internet forum 2channel, hype is surrounding the post of one such user who continues to live in Namie and look after abandoned pets. Read More

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